friday stew—a random collection of unrelated miscellany

2014-03-06 19.03.52 I happen to think granny glasses chains (actual name? seems somewhat insensitive ... ) are cool and useful. My mom refuses to get one even though she often does not know where she left her glasses—she’s farsighted—and then she can’t read her menu or coupons or calendar. I almost always know where mine are since I am nearsighted and they are usually on my face. If I do happen to put them down somewhere besides their designated place, I can’t see to find them. Then I have to employ the assistance of the sighted people around me—usually my kids. They are not very good at finding things. Typically I just feel around until I locate them. Not the kids, the glasses. Sometimes the kids. But they don't feel anything like glasses, so there's no real confusion. Lately I have been taking my glasses off more often because I’ve discovered that I enjoy the world all soft and furry sometimes. It’s so much more relaxing that way. But where to put my glasses? The granny chain! And it’s pretty. And it was a dollar. Yes, I said “dollar.” You read that right. My mom doesn’t like it. But Mem thinks it’s lovely. Yes, she is 89. What’s your point? Steve (not his real name) guffawed when I showed him. He totally likes it.

2014-03-06 19.05.52

I checked this book book out of the library. Because if there’s one more thing I need, it’s another book to read. I LOVE this writer. She is inspiring in the way Alice Munro and Louise Erdrich are inspiring. When I read their work, I am left thinking how did they just do that? Ever read The Interpreter of Maladies? Run out and do it. Speaking of too many books to read and not enough time to read them, I recently subscribed to BookBub. They send you daily deals on eBooks. Most are $2.99 or less. Some are FREE! Because if there is one more thing I need, it’s another book to read. (I totally do not have time for any more books. My book-acquiring habit is a sickness, people. And there is no cure.)

2014-03-06 19.04.32

In our old house, we used to have a lovely breezeway. It was large and spacious and roomy and ample and a bunch of other words you can find in the thesaurus. Now we have this, which the kids call the breezeway but it’s more of a tiny, insufficient entryway. And while it is lovely in its own special way it is also small, cramped, confining, circumscribed, crowded (oh alliteration!) and a bunch of other words you can find in the thesaurus. (Which I did. I love a thesaurus.) This space is always a disaster. I have attempted to employ numerous and extremely clever organizing techniques, but to no avail. This space insists on chaos. Yes, that is a cardboard box. And, yes, that is a big bowl of compost. (It is too damn cold to walk to the mulch pile.) I sort of hate this breezeway. It’s not even a breezeway, for crying out loud.

In the top 5 annoying things in my life, one of them is getting people out the door. I don’t mean Steve (not his real name). He can do it very efficiently. (He is such a good boy.) I mean the kids. (Had you figured that out on your own?) I don’t know if it is a symptom of being homeschooled and therefore not being trained to get out the door at a designated time regularly or what, but it is PAINFUL, people. I have nothing of worth to say regarding this topic. I can offer no advice to those similarly suffering. Only that it is incredibly annoying. Oh my god, is it annoying. Every day, for the love of all that’s holy—more than once some days. It’s terrible. (Can someone just help me?)

2014-03-06 19.05.21

This is the shower that lives in what was once a half bath. The shower was once a pantry which this small kitchen in Mem’s house really requires. But we changed it into a shower when Mem could no longer navigate the stairs up to the full bathroom. I know I will utilize this shower in the summer when we come home from the beach and I do not want salty, sandy, seaweedy children tramping through the house, but right now, we store extra food and beer in here. When we need to grab a new bag of snacks, we say, “Go check the shower.” Or, “Go get the cookies from the shower.” Which sounds nonsensical. But it totally is. Sensical, I mean.

What crazy stuff happens in your house? I’d love to know. Wait—is it only us?


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thursday stew—a random collection of unrelated miscellany

iPhone I got an iPhone. My sister talked me into it. I had been against the idea of getting a fancy phone for fear of turning into one of those people always staring at their phone. Also always checking email and Facebook, therefore perpetually available. Also I am cheap and the idea of paying for a data plan went up me sideways. Also my old phone was easy and learning new technology is haaaaaard. But then my sister MADE ME and now I shudder when I recall life before it! This phone is actually making my life easier. I can stay on top of email and all my homeschool forums and Facebook pages. I can tweet. (Well, in theory.) I can watch shows on Netflix. I can check the weather. I can get un-lost. I can play podcasts and Pandora when I can’t sleep. Also when I am awake at appropriate times. I can listen to NPR in the shower. I can meal plan. I can write notes and reminders. (That I will forget to read.) I can do all kinds of things that I don’t even realize I can do since I'm typically aware of only 7% of my devices’ capabilities! My iPhone is so lovely in her blue Otterbox. I love her. Existence without her would possess no meaning. Oh, the precioussssssss ... my precioussssssss ... Wait ... what did I just say?


Did I tell you I broke another Starbucks cold cup? Well, I did. It fell out of a backpack in which is was not properly secured and smashed into my sister’s driveway. Luckily, my green tea did not spill forth—but the cup was irreparably cracked. As there is no Starbucks in my city nor is there one in any surrounding city (WHAT?! I know ... ) I was left no choice but to buy a non-Starbucks cold cup. Isn’t she pretty, though?! Look at her stripy straw! She’s like a carnival! Without the nauseating rides and annoying crowds.


This is my shelf of books I haven’t read yet. I also have a folder on the Kindle app on my iPhone (you can even read books on these things!) called the “To Be Read” collection. 33 eBooks in there. 27 on the shelf. (2 on the night table ... ) I do not do mathing or adding and such, but I think it might be a lot. And no, I did not just buy several more books yesterday. (I did. We won’t tell Steve (not his real name) that I did that.)


Grocery shopping is really just an excuse to get a Starbucks. Just kidding. (I’m not.) I don’t have a Starbucks in my city nor is there one in any surrounding city. (WHAT?! I know ... ) There is one in the Target, though. It’s not quite as good, but I force myself to drink it down anyhow. I am a giver, people. I figure out what to feed the family, I go out, I get all of the ingredients, I bring it all in the house, put it away, and cook it. With unending amounts of infused love. I swear it’s not only to get a Starbucks. (It is.)


Toothless children—seriously is there anything cuter than a snaggle-toothed 6-year old? I have 2 of them! One of my girls lost a tooth one day last week and the Tooth Fairy generously brought her a dollar. Then she lost another tooth the next day and neither Steve (not his real name) nor I had another dollar. We couldn’t leave our debit card under her pillow so I took the dollar from the night before and left that instead. The kid has NO IDEA how much money she has, so really this was a win-win for all involved. Steve (not his real name) and I are problem-solvers. It’s a skill we hope to pass along to our children. The lying and lack of handy cash we hope to stop right here.


Dishes. I just freakin’ hate them so much. My parents made me and my sister do dishes all throughout our childhoods. It was horrible. I hate doing dishes. I always have. I can’t wait until I can make my kids do them.

Happy Thursday! How’s your week going?

thursday stew—a random collection of unrelated miscellany

2013-05-02 18.14.51 This is Lego in the bathroom. (Yes, that’s what I said.) Sometimes when you innocently walk into the bathroom, you come across this kind of thing on the floor. (Don’t you?) I’m not sure if some terrible battle took place or if they’re here to protect anyone who has to pee. Either way, they’re pretty much heroes.

2013-06-04 12.52.47

Don’t judge what I watch. If you think it’s dumb, it’s probably Steve’s (not his real name). He definitely watches dumb stuff. Like “Mistresses.” That’s totally his.

DVR is one of the best inventions. How else can you rack up more stuff to fit into your schedule that is supposed to help you unwind but then you have to try to find the time to watch all that stuff before you fill the capacity of your DVR at which time it deletes the programs at the bottom of the list which you don’t really want to see happen so you feel you must figure out a way to quickly watch them all so you can be relaxed. Wait... What? DVR is one of the best inventions.

2013-06-05 10.37.32

Either jeans were waaaaaay better in the 90s or my ass and waist were. I think it’s the former. It’s a total mystery, because I weigh the same as I always have ever since I was 20 and yet things have shifted. Not in an improved way. In my own body, I am seeing echoes of my Grammie’s body. No slam on Grammie, but I am picturing her at 90. I am not 90. This is why I love yoga pants. They are comfortable AND they flatter. Even better, I recently found linen pants with the yoga fold-down waist. Seriously? Most brilliant pants craftsmanship ever, hands down.

2013-05-23 16.19.28

I like to participate in contests on sales receipts. Hannaford Supermarket has one from which you can win $2000! I have never personally won. Target has one for $1500 and/or an instant $25 gift card. I have not won that, either. Home Depot, CVS—lots of places do it. Someday I am gonna win even though Steve (not his real name) mocks me for spending time doing these. I prefer to live with hope in my heart. When I win, I am not going to tell him and keep all the money for myself. Is that wrong? Probably not. Or probably. But that’s what he gets for choosing to live with cynicism in his heart.

2013-06-05 10.17.17

Only one dollar for all these crappy band-aids! And they're "lucky!" That can't be a bad thing.

My kids fall down all the time. ALL THE TIME. But mostly they only think they hurt themselves. In other words, these wounds are pretty much invisible to the naked eye and even though they think they need a band-aid (or several), they really don’t. So rather than deny them, I buy dollar store band-aids for the imperceptible boo-boos and save the real band-aids for the real ones. (I give out hugs no matter the physical—or metaphysical—nature of the boo-boo.) My kids all have this band-aid thing in common. However when it comes to death, their positions vary. My son just doesn’t want to talk about it. One of my twins periodically whispers in my ear, “When am I gonna die?” and the other one says things like, “Well, I don’t even care when I die. Because I won’t even know I’m dead!” What do death and band-aids have to do with each other? I don’t know. I can’t make all these connections for you.

2013-06-05 10.22.42

See how my old girl looks on sadly from the background? You have not been replaced! I am sending you out to pasture for a much-deserved rest!
I will always love you, first and most beloved Starbucks cold cup!

I bought a new reusable Starbucks cold cup. My old girl was just too damaged to keep on keepin’ on. This was not an easy decision, nor one upon which I endeavored lightly. I like my new cup, but I’m not in love with her yet. Give it a little time and I’m sure I will be. You can’t rush these things. I couldn’t bear to throw my old girl away, so she lives in the cabinet. Maybe someday I will be able to let her go.

2013-05-27 15.59.22

Ever walk into the living room in your empty house and come across a thing like this? Something very serious is happening here. I don’t know what these ponies are up to, but if Rainbow Dash is in charge, you know it’s gonna be momentous.

Happy Thursday!

thursday stew—a random collection of unrelated miscellany

I think some of my cleaning habits are pretty brilliant. Or maybe totally compulsive. But mostly brilliant. Such as separating the dirty cutlery in the dishwasher basket as you fill it. Do you know how much less time it takes to put it all away when you’ve already separated it?! At least 2 minutes less than when it hasn’t been. Imagine what you will be able to get accomplished now that I have shared this trick.mixed_cutlery

I happened to be at my sister’s when I was writing this so I snapped a photo of her basket of MIXED cutlery. That is one disgraceful mess. And she will be separating all that for at least 2 extra minutes once it’s washed. This kind of wasted time is why world peace gets back-burnered, people.

Here’s a laundry trick you’ll love. I used to just do the kids laundry together in one big load. But now they are getting bigger and so are their clothes (that will always happen) so I usually just combine mine in with theirs and make it a 2 load job. (Steve does his own laundry. I know, ladies... don’t even look at him—he’s MINE.) Now the problem, I soon learned, was that the first load was full of halves of sock and jammies sets, some of this and some of that and zero organization. I am nothing without my obsessive methodologies, people! You really want to know how I do it, don’t you? First load consists of pants and anything that goes on a hanger; second load is for undies, socks, shirts and jammies sets. Here’s the why part. Pants fold up quickly and I don’t even have to fold the hanger stuff. I carry it all up, hang up the dresses and shirts, stash the pants (super quick) and wait for load number 2 wherein all socks and jammies sets are conveniently together! Then I fold them and put them in neat little piles according to the individual to whom it belongs. Then I bring the basket upstairs and usually empty it out around 5 days later.

(Did you want to know this much about my laundry system?)

(Also, sorry if I just bored you to near-death.)

scratched_cell_phone I’m scared to tweet. I’m supposed to start using Twitter to build my author platform. I don’t know what to tweet and I don’t really understand Twitter in the first place and hash-tags and re-tweeting and I don’t like learning new things. I am the type who keeps the same cell phone until it literally falls apart or is no longer compatible with contemporary technology simply because I don’t want to have to figure out a new phone. That’s where I’m at on tweeting. But FINE I will do it. (And then wonder where it has been my whole life. Like Facebook and Spotify. And wine.)

kessik_and_chicken “Are you supposed to have that chicken?” This falls in the category of things you sometimes have to yell from the kitchen door out at kids in the yard. I would explain this one but would rather hear what you might be imagining. (Kindly leave your musings in the comments section below.)

TJ Trader Joe’s is awesome and I already knew this but I forgot for a while and now just remembered again. I have been thinking about how my grocery shopping methodologies (yes, of course I have a methodology for that, too—did you really fathom that I didn’t?) will need to change when we move. I do not like the primary grocery store in the area to which we are moving, but there is a Trader Joe’s about 45 minutes away. I figure I can go there every 2 weeks and do some bulk shopping and fill in on alternating weeks at the stores closer to home. I was always concerned that buying my full shopping list at Trader Joe’s would blow the budget. But it really didn’t! And organic apples for .79 cents a pound! .79 cents! I am a total convert.

(I just read that back to myself and almost died of boredom. Do you still have a pulse? If not, get someone to hit you in the chest with those electrified paddles they use on Grey’s Anatomy until you hear a beep beep beep. That’ll be your heart coming back. And sorry about that.)

m&ms_in_trash We received an ungodly amount of candy for Easter (which is kind of ironic). We ate some and saved some and some I had to put in the trash in order to stop eating it. This unfortunately did not entirely stop me from eating it until I threw something gross on top. Even then I considered just rinsing some peanut M&Ms off under the faucet. I am proud to say I didn’t. But mostly because Steve came home and I didn’t want to explain why I was rinsing peanut M&Ms off under the faucet.  (I should have waited until he was busy and then I might have gotten away with it. That’s what I’ll do next year.)

I wish you the happiest of Thursdays!

wednesday stew—a random collection of unrelated miscellany

piano2It is not nice to foist an old, out-of-tune, mostly-broken upright piano on anyone. I know because it happened to me and now we have to deconstruct it, which is neither easy nor fun. The last family who owned our house left behind an old, out-of-tune, mostly-broken upright piano which we have sort of just lived around but now must dismantle because no one—I mean, NO ONE—wants it and we can’t just have it here being all ugly, old, out-of-tune and mostly-broken when we want to have a nice open house so we can move. I admit, the deconstruction process has been a little fun and actually pretty interesting. (But I must still urge you not to foist an old, out-of-tune, mostly-broken upright piano on anyone because in spite of the up-sides, it’s still not very nice. Unless you don’t care about being nice in which case carry on with the assurance that it is indeed not a very nice thing to do.) But look how cool its innards are? piano3


This is the built-in cabinet in my dining room. built-in Until a few days ago, it had very ugly glowing gold knobs that I totally despised. Also, right through the glass all the mess I attempt to contain inside the cabinet was visible. (That’s exactly how glass works, in case science eludes you as it does me.) Why didn’t I make it pretty like this 5 years ago when we moved in? I have no idea. The next person will probably think this is ugly and despise it for years until she is ready to move and then changes it to exactly the way she likes.

March_snow1 This is what another 20 inches of snow looks like on top of about 20 other inches of snow that was already there.

Seriously? Enough already.

That’s all.

We went on a getaway this past weekend to a hotel with a (ridiculously over-chlorinated) pool. The kids went to bed too late, got overstimulated in general, slept too little which meant I also slept too little. It was a ton of work planning, packing, unpacking, repacking, unpacking. And I hardly relaxed at all. Now that we’re home, this is what I have to contend with. Yeah—that is all dirty. dirty_laundry

(Do I have a bad attitude or what?) is cool. Most likely someone told you this ages ago, but I am also telling you now! You can save web pages you want to read for when you actually have time to read them. You can organize and archive them, choose your favorites or simply delete the ones that are ehhh. What will probably happen is that you will stockpile a ton of stuff you will never have time to read, but at least you’ll know where it all is. (That’s my plan.)

laundry_basket1 And, lastly—THIS! Yes it is a laundry basket hung with those removable adhesive strips and hooks. It is where the dirty dish cloths and towels, rags, cloth napkins and burned potholders gather together for washing. I used to have a square container that sat itself on the top stair and often got accidentally kicked down into the basement which always totally pissed me off. Also it was very small and then a giant pile would grow which then got accidentally kicked down into the basement. Which totally pissed me off. This green basket once held all the girls’ stuffed animals until I repurposed a nice old chest which is now a nice toy chest. laundry_basket2 Anyhow, this is awesome, if I do say so myself. When full, I simply remove it from the wall and carry it down to the washer. Steve doesn’t like it because he says he keeps bumping into it. I told him to stop doing that and then he would be able to appreciate its greatness. I like to solve problems.

Happy Wednesday!

friday stew—a random collection of unrelated miscellany

lego_heroWhen confronted with a wretched mixed pile of Lego bricks and Lego Hero Factory parts, I will know which is which 95% of the time. This is not a skill I intentionally cultivated nor one upon I wish to improve. (But I bet I will.) Sorting these little pieces of plastic represents one of the reasons why writing blog posts and novels and shaving regularly prove to be a challenge. (Good thing I don’t really care about shaving.) kitcen_windowIt is too cold and I am tired of being too cold. Usually I do not complain about winter but seriously I am D-O-N-E. It’s only early February which is bad news for me since February only means many more weeks of cold in these parts. A blizzard today and tomorrow is promising to deliver 24” plus to my little part of the Earth. Maybe even 30”. Right on my house. The up-side: snow hides a bleak and messy backyard when you are hopeful of selling aforementioned domicile.

cuppowExciting cup news! Remember when I cracked my beloved Starbucks reusable cold cup? Well, it remains cracked, but useable. However, its integrity is becoming more and more heartachingly compromised. But then I heard about this amazing invention on RadioBoston, one of my favorite NPR shows. It is called CUPPOW and it’s a little insert that turns any mason jar into a travel mug! My awesome mail carrier, Brian, brought mine to me this week. You can insert a straw in it. I am going to sew a little cozy for my Cuppowed jar. It is certain to be adorable. Like one of those little sweatered dogs.

granolaSugar is really pissing me off lately. I mean its pervasiveness. As a result, I have sworn off packaged cereal. Even the "healthy" ones contain a crapload of sugar. So what to leave handy for the little monsters so I can stay in bed just a few more minutes in the morning? Homemade granola sweetened with only natural maple syrup! Here’s the recipe. Combine 3 cups of rolled oats, 3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut, a tablespoon of cinnamon and/or some raisins and almonds—toss the mixture with 3 ounces of olive oil and 3 ounces of maple syrup and bake at 250 degrees F for an hour. Oh, throw in some flax seeds if you got ‘em. The kids think it’s the greatest thing. And they say I am the best and cutest mother in the world (no lie), so I must be doing something right. Sometimes I am the WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD as well, which is confusing. Either way, this granola does not have refined sugar in it which was the point of this paragraph.

cavemenMy son likes to watch this BBC series about Cavemen and the animals that predated the dinosaurs and other prehistoric stuff. The other day he walked into the kitchen where I was preparing supper and said, “Mommy, did you know that Australopithecus was the first primate species to mate face to face?” Then he left with no further commentary to return to his wretched mixed pile of Lego bricks and Lego Hero Factory parts (to which he refers simply as Legos and Heroes).

And here ends the Friday stew of random, unrelated miscellany. I hope you have an opportunity to mate face to face this weekend, especially if you are buried in 30” of snow—I mean, what else will there be to do?